Gudrun Mertes-Frady at Rosenberg + Kaufman

Gudrun Mertes-Frady, Manhattan (2007), oil and metallic pigment on canvas, 30″ x 31″; courtesy the artist

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With her new exhibition at Rosenberg and Kaufman Fine Art, the painter Gudrun Mertes-Frady is no longer an artist to whom one politely pays attention: She’s become an artist to get excited about.

The recent abstractions, canvases filled with expansive architectural networks, share the densely layered surfaces and gritty, muted tones of her earlier work. What’s new is that Ms. Mertes-Frady has forsaken the all-but-guaranteed unity of modular, all-over structures; now she creates quirky relationships by playing off a grid. As a consequence, the pictures have opened up, and thanks to the off-center rhythms, they’re also sharper, less run-of-the-mill.

Associations abound–the pictures bring to mind tile work, circuitry, pictographs and the paintings of Myron Stout. The two best canvases, Shift to Myth and Manhattan (both 2003), concentrate the city: its skyline, its light, the abrupt juxtapositions that define it and that stately calm that brings you up short.

© 2003 Mario Naves

Originally published in the October 3, 2003 edition of The New York Observer.

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